Torah Tidbits

30 August 2014 / 4 Elul 5774
Issue 1024
Shabbat Parshat Vayeishev
December 06, 2012

Divrei Menachem

Divrei Menachem

In our parsha we confront the animosity of Yosef’s brothers to Yosef because of the lad’s dreams which indicated that he would, one day, rise above his siblings and that they would be subservient to him. No wonder then that when Yosef appears to the brothers in Dotan they conspire to kill him and to put an end to the potential fulfillment of those dreams.
Two of the brothers, however, have mercy on the young lad. Hearing of the plan to murder Yosef, Reuven exclaims: “Shed no blood! Throw him [Yosef] into this pit,” with the intention of later saving his young brother and returning him to his father.
After Yosef is thrown into the pit, his brother Yehuda suggests that rather than let Yosef die, they better sell him to traders on the way to Egypt - perhaps, to cite the S’forno, to teach Yosef that instead of his becoming the master (as predicted in his dreams), he would become a slave.
Reuven’s act was questionable because, according to the Midrash, the pit contained poisonous snakes and scorpions. Yehuda’s action, however, clearly saved Yosef’s life. But the Torah only acknowledges that Reuven rescued Yosef from the hand of his brothers. Perhaps to teach us that even though Yehuda saved Yosef physically, he nevertheless potentially caused Yosef to die spiritually in the hands of some of the most malevolent and morally corrupt idol-worshipers of that time.

Shabbat Shalom, Menachem Persoff

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